Christmas was not the celebration Mathieu Bastareaud hoped it would be as the former France midfielder suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing at No8 for Lyon in the Top 14. Having briefly dabbled in the forwards role at the start of the 2019/20 season at Lyon, Bastareaud then jetted to America for his short-term deal with Rugby United New York.

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After that stay was limited by the cancellation of the 2020 Major League Rugby season due to the pandemic, ex-centre Bastareaud enthusiastically settled back into his new position following his return to Lyon on a two-year deal last summer.

He had been involved in all ten of Lyon’s Top 14 games so far but that run is now over after last Sunday’s appearance at Brive lasted just 15 minutes.

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Goodbye 2020!

The 32-year-old has since had his operation to fix the rupture and has taken to Instagram to thank the medics for their help in quickly sending him on a road to recovery where he is not expected to be back in action until the 2021/22 season in France.

“Operation gone well,” he wrote. “A big thank you to the surgeon and all his medical team. #ninja #backstronger.”

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While Lyon will be encouraged that surgery went well and Bastareaud is on the mend after last weekend’s 12-8 defeat, the title-chasing French club are trying to come to terms with the headache of filling the large void now left at No8. Forwards coach David Gerard told rugbyrama.fr: “Mathieu Bastareaud, you are not replacing him. You live without him but you cannot replace him. Beyond that, we lose a good guy, a leader. That is what is sad.

“We will support him during these six months which will be long and annoying for him. We will put all our energy to make him come back the most quickly and as well as possible. It will allow him to recover from the exhausting season he had last year with a visit to us, then a visit to the United States which did not go well because of the Covid. It has was hard for him.”

For the moment, Lyon boss Pierre Mignoni isn’t considering a medial joker and will see if his squad can internally carry the load caused by the untimely absence of Bastareaud.

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